I’m what you’d call a “late adopter” when it comes to the Disney On Ice franchise. It wasn’t until my youngest daughter was in kindergarten that I bought tickets to our first show, curious to see what the fuss was all about. She was captivated from the very beginning, and I must admit, I too was drawn in by the athletic and graceful performances of the figure skaters, the dazzling costumes and the comfortingly familiar, sing-along Disney songs.
Since then, it’s become an annual tradition for the two of us to take in the latest Disney On Ice show when the tour arrives in Australia each year, just in time for the winter school holidays. Last year, the Australian Disney On Ice tour was largely themed around the Frozen film. Surely there was never a better story to be performed on an ice-skating rink. It was magical.
This year, the show’s tagline is Disney On Ice Celebrates Mickey and Friends, to commemorate 90 years of Mickey Mouse. As well as plenty of Mickey action, the show’s producers promise to feature other Disney favourites including Moana, Toy Story, Inside Out and the much-loved Frozen characters.
But for me, the biggest stars of the show are not the characters they portray but the skaters themselves. Recently, my daughter Abigail and I were fortunate enough to meet two of the lead skaters from this year’s show: Grant Marron and Anna Bradshaw.
Abi with Disney On Ice skater Grant Marron
Abi with Disney On Ice Ambassador Tom Williams and skater Anna Bradshaw
Both native to the U.S., Grant and Anna travel the world to perform the same show for months at a time, often chasing winter around the globe. And because the tentacles of Disney spread far and wide, Grant and Anna were recently on hand to meet fans like ourselves at the Acacia Ridge Ice-Skating Rink on the outskirts of Brisbane.
Grant, who has been skating for 27 years, gallantly helped Abigail and I onto the ice to join them in a sweep around the rink. “The first step onto the ice is always the hardest,” Grant laughs. “Once you’re on, you’re ok.”
Feeling rusty, but desperate to stay upright in front of such an accomplished skater, I edged around cautiously while asking Grant some questions. Because he is responsible for lifting the female performers and executing complicated spins, jumps and manoeuvres, I wondered if he followed a rigorous training regime at the gym?
“No, for me, it’s just regular skating and regular practice on the ice that keeps me in shape and keeps me strong,” Grant smiles.
Now gaining a little confidence and momentum, Anna joins us, and teaches Abigail one of the basics of ice-skating: a two-foot glide.
“You’ve got it!” Anna exclaims. “You’re a natural!” Abigail is beaming from ear to ear. I want to take a photograph but know that any change in my footing to reach for the phone in my back pocket will probably see me falling spectacularly. And so, I just add my encouragement with a grin and a quick thumbs up.
Also circling the rink is Tom Williams, Australian television personality, father of two and Disney on Ice Ambassador. The first male ever to be given the role, Tom says he’s thrilled to be taking on the gig.
“I’ve got two daughters – Storm is five and Sloane is three – and they are huge Frozen fans,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to taking them to the show.”
Tom Williams with Anna Bradshaw & Grant Marron | Tom Williams with Abi
Abigail and I will be there too, along with the thousands of other families, young and old, that have been swept away by the magic of Disney on Ice.
Disney on Ice will be touring Australia in the winter of 2019. Tickets start at $33 and are available through Ticketek at www.Ticketek.com.au/
Here’s a 30 sneak peek of Anna Bradshaw and Grant Marron in action.